Château du Clos Lucé

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Leonardo the visionary


The first automobile, the metric counter, the paddle boat, the double-skinned hull, the machine gun – and the life-size flying machine in the museum hall: there are so many inventions displayed at Le Clos Lucé that reveal Leonardo da Vinci’s visionary genius.

The mechanics of life

Leonardo da Vinci’s botanical and zoological drawings, and drawings of dissections, express his intense desire to discover the mysteries of life. When he was young, Leonardo compared everything to the human body which, he said, summed up the body of the earth. Through studying the movements of the living, he tried to demonstrate the existence of the mechanics of bodies, as shown by his projects to make flying machines. So it was not until he had closely observed the flight of bats and birds that Leonardo constructed a sort of glider with articulated wings. He also devised the principle of the parachute, as well as vertical movement in a flying propeller through inclined blades, anticipating the helicopter.


It was the idea of the absolute and the universal that fascinated Leonardo da Vinci in this science: “Mathematics”, he said, “encompass everything in the universe.” He was self-taught, and was constantly drawing cylinders, spheres, cones, spirals, and so on, before creating new shapes. His geometric drawing of a dodecahedron, reproduced in three dimensions in the Parc du Clos Lucé, has become famous.

Civil and military engineering

As an inventor and an engineer, military engineering was one of Leonardo da Vinci’s favourite areas of interest. During the wars between the Italian republics, he offered his skills to future patrons, notably Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. He invented the three-rack multi-directional machine gun, the swing bridge and the tank. Inspired by his reading, research carried out by engineers from Siena, and a scientific and technical tradition dating back to the Middle Ages and Antiquity, Leonardo systematized knowledge and introduced innovation through the power of his inventiveness. He used new materials like steel, or developed ball bearings to reduce friction. Visitors will be able to experiment with his inventions, manoeuvring his tank in the park, as well as his paddle boat, his fan-type machine gun and his Archimedes screw, or by walking across all sorts of bridges that he invented.

Architecture and town planning

Leonardo also dreamed of an ideal city, with buildings and streets on different levels, and waste water disposal systems. In the Parc Leonardo da Vinci, visitors can explore the plan for a functioning city designed for Ludovico il Moro, in 1485. Around thirty years later, Leonardo worked towards Francis I’s ambition to make Romorantin the capital of France, and to construct a “beautiful, grand and sumptuous edifice” in the Sologne forests. This uncompleted challenge demonstrates the immense range of Leonardo’s talents.